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I’ve come to realize that learning a new language can involve a great deal of concentration and a fair amount of effort, or not much at all–it’s just like using English in that regard.

And, just like communicating with English, paying attention seems to be the most important part. It’s easy enough to develop lazy habits when the language is common, the relationships are apparently well-defined, and the topic is seemingly commonplace.

Try that in Spanish, especially with another non-native speaker who is fluent in a 3rd language and the assumptions that are implicit in casually using any language quickly surface–just as they do in a good exchange in native English. I think that is because, in a foreign language–especially one that is foreign to both speakers–people seem to instinctively grant each other a broad latitude when ascribing meaning to each others’ utterances.

We’d do well to do likewise in the native tongue.

An unanticipated benefit of this linguistic largesse, para mi, is finding shades of meaning and even novel implications in what my friends and colleagues say and even in my own utterances.

This is not surprising when you think of it. Language, after all, is a tool used to think, not just talk.

Experiencing a concerted and mutual effort to create and share meaning in Spanish is the complete antithesis of your basic unblinking conversation in English with some il- or mis-informed Yahoo who daily adjusts his or her linguistic filters or changes the angle of his blinders so as to continue talking and listening comfortably, albeit wrong.

It’s even worse when it dawns that perhaps YOU are that Yahoo, in much the same way that Walt Kelly’s Pogo confronted the enemy within: “…I has discovered the enemy and he is us.”

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about words this morning.

Maybe I’ll devote a little time to thinking about the “…and Such” part of the subject after lunch. But now I’ll paint for a few hours.

It’s always a good day when you can paint for a few hours.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

“Cafe,” of course, is the Spanish word for coffee…

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